LIT 341: The Nineteenth-Century British Novelwcu logo

Fall 2003


MWF 3-3:50

Main 300

Dr. Robert Fletcher

office: Main 541 (enter through 540)

phone: x2745



hours:  M 2-3, 4-8, WF 2-3


We will read and discuss selected novels from a great age of novel writing. These will include an Austen comedy of manners, a panoramic Bildungsroman (novel of development) by Dickens, a popular sensation novel, and two novels focusing on "the Woman Question" by George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) and Thomas Hardy. The critical approaches incorporated into the course will include biographical, reader-response, gender, rhetorical, and cultural study.


       · To introduce you to the pleasures of the dominant literary form of 19th-century England.

       · To enhance your literacy skills through extensive analysis of the novels.

       · To develop your critical thinking skills through the use of various critical approaches.

       · To study the ways in which literary texts relate to their historical contexts.



       Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (Penguin)

       Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (Penguin)

       George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (Oxford)

       Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret (Oxford)

       Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd (Oxford)


There will be a number of critical texts made available (for the class’s reading or for group presentations), either put on reserve in FHG Library or put in “Course Documents” at the Blackboard course site (BB).


Keeping up with the reading is a must for two reasons: once you fall behind you may never catch up (these books are fairly long by contemporary standards), and, more importantly, you'll enjoy the class more thoroughly if you can participate in class discussions. Do not rely on Cliff's Notes or other "study aids."


       You will be evaluated as follows:


  • Reading quizzes: two per novel, each worth 10 points (20%)
  • Midterm and final examinations: each may include analyses of passages from the novels and comparison/contrast essays about the novels (40%)
  • Group presentation on a novel (20%)
  • Study group participation: includes sharing and responding to weekly entries in a collaborative, online reading journal (10%)
  • Class participation (10%)

Course Policies

Students with Disabilities: We at West Chester University wish to make accommodations for persons with disabilities.  Please make your needs known by contacting me and/or the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at ext. 3217.  Sufficient notice is needed in order to make the accommodations possible.  The University desires to comply with the ADA of 1990.


Late Assignments: Exams or other assignments submitted late will have 1/3 of a grade deducted for each day (not class period) that passes after the due date. I will not accept any assignment more than 1 week late. Reading quizzes may not be submitted late or made up without a documented medical excuse.


Plagiarism: "Plagiarism is using another's words or ideas without appropriate acknowledgement" (MLA Style Manual 4). In essays and reports, "acknowledgement" means using conventions of citation such as the quotation marks and parenthetical note in the previous sentence. Even if you paraphrase someone's words, you must provide a note showing your debt.  In informal writing, as a common courtesy, you should always credit the name of the person whose idea you are mentioning or borrowing. NOTE: If you plagiarize or use commercial study aids (e.g. Cliff's Notes), in your essays or reports, you will receive an irrevocable "F" grade.


Attendance: You are permitted four absences during the semester, excluding those for major medical problems, which will be handled on an individual basis. If you miss too much of the semester--even with a legitimate medical excuse--I may have to ask you to withdraw. After the four cuts, your final grade in the course will be lowered a third of a grade (e.g. from C to C-) for each cut.

Class Schedule

NOTE: This class schedule is subject to change on relatively short notice.  In particular, I may add critical materials on the novels; when I do so, I will announce the additions and their locations (on reserve or on BB) in class.


Introduction to course and the Blackboard course site: August 25


Introduction to 19th-Century Novels, Readers, and the Publishing World: August 27

Please read Lee Erickson’s “The Economy of Novel Reading: Jane Austen and the Circulating Library” (BB)

Optional reading: Kate Flint’s “The Victorian Novel and its Readers” (BB). 


Pride and Prejudice:  August 29 (through chap. 3), September 3 (first half read), 5, 8, 10 (finished), 12, 15 (group presentation)


David Copperfield:  September 17 (through chapter 14/xiv), 19, 22, 24 (through chapter 31/xxxi), 26, 29, October 1 (through 46/xlvi), 3, 6, 8 (finished), 10, 15 (group presentation)

NOTE: Class canceled on October 17 to allow you time to do the midterm.


The Mill on the Floss:  October 20 (through Book 3), 22, 27 (finished), 29, 31, November 3 (group presentation)

NOTE: Class canceled on Oct. 24 for the EAPSU Conference; please try to attend sessions of interest while finishing Mill.


Lady Audley's Secret:  November 5 (first half read), 7, 10, 12 (finished), 14, 17 (group presentation)


Far from the Madding Crowd:  November 19 (first half read), 21, 24, December 1 (finished), 3, 5 (group presentation)


Review for final exam: December 8